Your dentist is an expert on healthy teeth and gums, but there’s more to your oral health than just these aspects.
One vital part of your oral health is your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which are the joints on each side of your face that allow you to open and close your mouth. When everything is in order, you can open your mouth to chew, speak, and smile with ease, but if something is misplaced, it can make these actions difficult or painful.
Neuromuscular dentistry is the type of dentistry that seeks to avoid, minimise, and fix these issues. It includes various TMJ treatment options that largely depend on the issue causing the problems.
What is Neuromuscular Dentistry?
Neuromuscular dentistry (NMD) is a specialist field that examines the entire system that controls the positioning and function of your jaw and neck. It uses modern technology to align the jaw and neck to eliminate pain and other TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) symptoms.
Some of the common TMJ disorder symptoms may include:
- Shoulder, neck and back pain
- Clenching or grinding of your teeth and jaw
- Clicking or popping sounds in the jaw joints
- Jaw pain
- Loose teeth
- Worn or cracked teeth and fillings
- Numbness/tingling of the arms and fingers
The science of neuromuscular dentistry is based on the understanding that your jaw needs to be aligned and in its most relaxed position at rest.
The problem could stem from:
- Misaligned teeth
- Bruxism (tooth clenching)
- Misaligned jaw
- Incorrect jaw positioning
Your dentist will weigh up the complex relationship between your teeth, jaw joints and muscles and make a decision about how to best realign your jaw.
Once your jaw is properly aligned and your teeth are in place, you can enjoy a more functional, pain-free smile.
How does a Neuromuscular Dentistry treatment work?
Your exact TMJ or neuromuscular dentistry treatment will depend on what exactly is causing you problems.
For example, if your jaw is misaligned, your dentist may seek to relax the muscles around the jaw by using a Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation (TENS) device. This is an ultra-low frequency unit that deprograms and relaxes muscles, allowing the dentist to correct and realign your bite.
A K7 machine is then used to find your optimal jaw position. This very sensitive measuring tool uses electromyography, sonography, and jaw-tracking scans to record your muscle tension and listen to your jaw joint, while at rest and while functioning.
You may also be provided with personalised orthotic devices to gently align your jaw. In this treatment, you will wear a removable (or fixed, in some cases) dental device that will keep the position of your jaw in a more relaxed position. This device is individually made for you, according to your condition and the position of your jaw.
Keep in mind that even though all dentists have a strong basic understanding of neuromuscular dentistry, this is a specialised area that requires extra knowledge and training. A general dentist won’t usually have the skills and tools on hand to deal with more advanced TMJ issues, so they may refer you to a neuromuscular dental specialist for treatment.
Advantages of receiving Neuromuscular Dentistry
Not everyone needs neuromuscular dentistry, but when you do, it can be hugely beneficial to your oral health and overall happiness.
- Pain-free eating and speaking:
When there’s an issue with your temporomandibular joint, it often leads to pain. Neuromuscular dentistry can help to fix the issue and remove the pain.
- Better dental health:
If your jaw is mis-aligned, it can mean you wear down certain teeth in an uneven manner, which can cause more issues down the line. Fixing your jaw problems can therefore protect your dental health.
- Better general health:
Your jaw can have more of an impact on your overall health than you may realise. By receiving neuromuscular dentistry treatments, you may be able to improve pain and discomfort in other areas such as your back, shoulders, and arms.
How much does it cost to see a Neuromuscular dentist?
The cost of neuromuscular dentistry can start low for basic treatments, but climb much higher if your TMJ issues require major intervention such as jaw reconstruction surgery.
For example, you may only need a custom mouthguard to help with bruxism, or orthodontics to realign your teeth. These solutions can cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars. However, getting crowns on a number of teeth or jaw surgery can cost much more.
You are best to speak to your neuromuscular dentist to find out what your treatment would entail and how much it would cost.
What to expect from your Neuromuscular Dentistry appointment
Each neuromuscular dentistry appointment is different, depending on what’s giving you problems and how your dental professional decides to treat it.
Generally speaking, here’s what you can expect from a neuromuscular dentistry check-up.
- Brush and floss your teeth before you arrive
- Be prepared to discuss your symptoms, including pains throughout your body that you might not even think are connected
- Your neuromuscular dentist will do a physical examination
- They will also take x-rays of your mouth
- They will ask you a series of questions about your oral health, including pain or discomfort, and clicking of your jaw, headaches, and other related issues
- Your dentist may need to do further tests to determine the cause of the issue
- In most cases, they should be able to determine the problem and begin a treatment plan, where they will outline the steps and what it all involves
- Be sure to ask any questions you have
Speak to a National Dental Care Neuromuscular dental specialist today
If you are experiencing neck or jaw pain and you haven’t found the cause of your issues, we recommend reaching out to neuromuscular dental specialist to assist you in understanding and potentially resolving your neck and jaw problems.
For more information on how neuromuscular dentistry can help you and your smile, find your nearest dental office and get in touch today to schedule an appointment.